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The Short and Long Term Impact of Cheating on Students (part 2)

I am blogging this week about the tragedy that surfaced last week in the Atlanta Public School system. The story has gone nationwide; in fact, I just did an interview with the Washington Post, where journalists are grieving the scandal—teachers and administrators changing the answer to students’ test scores in order to pass them through the system and get money for it. Apparently, learning is no longer the objective for some educators. Instead, it’s their own survival.  Yesterday, I suggested what the short-term impact on the students might be. Today—let’s imagine what the long-term impact may be.


  1. Waves of depression coming and going. A student who’s passed on to the next grade when they have failed to demonstrate they are ready will eventually spiral. Life will either ambush them or they’ll likely sabotage themselves.
  2. The inability to compete in a global economy. Students in India and China who’ve achieved legitimately will surpass our artificial graduates in the U.S. There are more honor students in China than all students in the U.S. This will only make it worse.
  3. Expediency will rule the day, not moral leadership. Adults have modeled pitiful coping mechanisms to survive: just cheat. We cannot expect our kid’s ethics/values to be trustworthy if they made progress by cheating.
  4. Job hopping. They’ll be unable to work hard and follow through. Success has been easy and artificial. With no consequences to actions, long-term commitment will atrophy. By 2030, we may see five-year marriage contracts and few long-term jobs.

I wish I could say this is an isolated incident. Unfortunately, other cheating scandals have emerged around the country, including in Washington D.C. I’m angry about this disgrace, where adults care more about their money and their reputation than about the kids they are teaching. When education becomes more about teacher tenure and security than about student success, it’s time to overhaul the system.

What do you think?



  1. Christopher Wesley on July 13, 2011 at 8:22 am


    Great post, it makes me think what we make too easy for students, where we allow risk and how we teach them to persevere through it all.  I would like to say it’s a school problem, but often times these issues can bleed into church ministry as well.  

    • Tim Elmore on July 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks, Chris. That’s so true. I would definitely say there is application in ministry as well.

  2. Connie on July 13, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Good Article, thanks for sharing Tim.  I look forward to more of your posting on this subject in the coming weeks. 

    I also wonder do you think this scandal will follow these kids through their lives as in “Oh you came from (Fill in the Blank School) sorry we can’t accept you because we don’t know if we can trust you transcript” or such like that.   We seem to becoming more of a world where education and training is everything. And if cheating is made to light even the good are left to suffer.

    I only say this as someone who almost fell through the cracks in the late 80’s, but by God’s mercy things arose where I was able to go to a College Prep Christian School for my last two years which changed everything. I went from Special Ed classes to classes that taught Shakespeare.  It was the best thing ever… there people invested in me unlike the school where I attended that assigned real easy crossword puzzles from short stories  in High School because they didn’t want to hurt my self esteem. 

    Thanks to people like you who believe investing in tomorrow’s leaders, that their is still people like you out there trying to mend broken bridges from Educators and parents who don’t have the tools to reach others.

    • Tim Elmore on July 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm

      Thanks, Connie. Our hope is certainly that this scandal won’t follow these students for the rest of their lives. Growing Leaders, along with several other community organizations are working on a plan to help these students in both the short and long term.

      Thanks for sharing your story as someone who has overcome adversity – it’s inspiring! Hopefully, your story and others like it will inspire educators, parents and leaders to develop the potential in today’s students.

  3. Stacey Demaio on July 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Unfortnuately, I find this to be another product of NCLB and other likes from the government. Do I think it is acceptable? No. Do I understand the plight of the public school teacher? Yes.

    • Tim Elmore on July 26, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      It is a hard balance to strike when we require so much of teachers and reward/punish them based on test scores. I hope that scandals like this shine light on the challenges and lead us to a better solution than what many schools currently have in place.

  4. David on July 28, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I agree with the post.  But there’s one thing I question regarding the honor students in Asia.  My experience of living and teaching in Malaysia (since 2005) and experiencing students from across Asia has been surprising.  As bad as the cheating problem is in America, at least it’s a scandal. Plagiarism and cheating in general is so common there that, in many cases, it’s not even a scandal among Christians. 

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The Short and Long Term Impact of Cheating on Students (part 2)